Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to the monthly letters column. You’ve occupied our mailboxes, so we’re diving in.
— We recently answered a question about whether or not the tea, coffee and juicy fruits and vegetables that someone consumes contribute to hydration. The answer is yes, they do. Now, a reader asks a specific question about sodas: “I find it difficult to get reliable information on the safety of drinking soft drinks,” she wrote. “Should we avoid it? In a word, yes.
Sugary drinks like soda are linked to a long list of adverse health effects, starting with obesity, poor blood sugar control and diabetes. Recent studies have found an association with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Research shows that having as little as one soda a day measurably increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And diet sodas, which increase hunger and disrupt metabolism, are no better.
If you fancy some bubbles, you can try one of the flavored, unsweetened sparkling waters that are widely available.
— In a previous column on wound care, we explained that a cut or scrape should be gently cleaned with mild soap and cold running water. This led one reader to offer a different scenario. “When you need to clean a minor cut or scrape, what should you use if mild soap and running water are not available?” they asked. One of your main goals with any cut or scrape is to prevent infection. This means cleaning the wound of any dirt or bacteria that may have become embedded when the injury occurred. If clean water of any kind is not immediately available, you will want to protect the broken skin from dirt or other injury by wrapping it in a clean blanket. To be clear, this is a temporary fix until you reach a place where the wound can be properly cleaned and bandaged.
— A column on medical-grade honey, that is, honey that has been sterilized for safe use in a medical setting, continues to receive a lot of mail. Due to its antimicrobial properties, medical grade honey is sometimes used to treat burns and wounds. This caught the attention of a reader whose daughter lives with scleroderma, a condition that involves the hardening and tightening of the skin. “My daughter has developed open ulcers on her feet and hands,” she wrote. “Do you think medical grade honey will help them heal faster?”
A hallmark of scleroderma is narrowing of blood vessels, which leads to poor circulation. For this reason, patients often develop open sores. Although there are case studies that have found benefit in using medical-grade honey to treat open wounds associated with scleroderma, clinical trials of practice are lacking. It would be a good idea to bring up the subject of medical-grade honey for your daughter with your daughter’s doctor or healthcare team.
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to write. We appreciate your feedback and are grateful for your kind thoughts.
Ask the Doctors is written by Dr. Robert Ashley, internist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles; Elizabeth Ko, internist and primary care physician at UCLA Health; and Dr. Eve Glazier, MBA, internist and assistant professor of internal medicine at UCLA Health.